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Strong Back Nine Effort Has Flames Tied for 8th Place

May 15, 2017  Austin, Texas  RSS
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Liberty's Isaiah Logue during the first round of the NCAA Austin Regional.

Liberty's Isaiah Logue during the first round of the NCAA Austin Regional.

No. 8 seed Liberty played the final nine holes during Monday's first round of the NCAA Austin Regional at even par, allowing the Flames to stand tied for eighth place.

Liberty made the turn at the University of Texas Golf Club (par 71, 7,355 yards) at 10-over par and near the bottom of the regional's first round leaderboard. However, the Flames played the final nine holes at level par to card a 10-over par 294 on Monday.

The Flames share eighth place with No. 3 seed Wake Forest and are four shots behind the carefully watched fifth-place position.

The top five teams follow play on Wednesday will advance to the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship, May 26-31, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

The fifth-place position is shared by No. 5 seed Arizona State, No. 6 seed NC State and No. 9 seed Iowa State with the trio of teams firing a 6-over par 290.

No. 3 seed and event host Texas used the familiarity of its home course to its favor, posting a 7-under par 277 to open the regional with the clubhouse lead.

No. 4 seed Ole Miss is in second place with a 2-under par 282, followed by No. 1 seed Oklahoma, who is 10 shots off the pace following a 3-over par 287.

Liberty's Isaiah Logue was one of nine players in the 75-man regional field to finish in red figures. The junior is tied for sixth place following a 2-under par 69, his eighth sub-70 round of the season.

The Fairfield, Pa., native posted a birdie on all three par-5 holes, beginning with his first under-par score of the day at No. 9 (605 yards). He opened and closed his back nine with bogeys at No. 10 (par 4, 422 yards) and No. 18 (par 4, 495 yards). However, he was able to cash in on birdie chances at No. 11 (par 5, 596 yards), No. 14 (par 5, 562 yards) and No. 16 (par 3, 248 yards).

Logue is three shots off the overall individual pace set by Texas' Scottie Scheffler, who fired a 5-under par 66. Four players finished the first round two shots back with a 3-under par 68.

Liberty's Gabe Lench and Kieran Vincent both posted a 3-over par 74 and enter the second round tied for 33th place.

An errant tee shot off the lengthy par-4, No. 3 hole (493 yards) saw the sophomore need to scramble to make bogey, sinking a 12-foot putt to only drop one shot on Monday round's hardest hole. Lench's score remained the same until he posted a bogey on the last three holes of the front nine to make the turn at 4-over par.

The sophomore got his first birdie of the day at the dogleg No. 13 hole (par 4, 375 yards) when he drained a 14-foot birdie try from below the hole. Lench nearly reached the green in two at No. 15 and was able to get up and down from the left front greenside bunker for another birdie to move back to 2-over par.

His score remained the same until the closing hole where his tee shot found the right-side fairway bunker. After hitting left of the creek running around to the 18th green, Lench pitched to five feet, but was not able to make the par-saving putt.

On the day, the sophomore hit 9-of-14 fairways, 10-of-18 greens, finished with 30 total putts for a 3-over par 74.

Vincent posted three bogeys over a four-hole stretch from No. 9 to No. 12 (par 3, 190 yards) to fall to 4-over par. However, the Big South Freshman of the Year offset one final bogey with birdies at No. 13 (par 4, 375 yards) and No. 17 (par 4, 427 yards) to finish his first NCAA Regional round at 3-over par on the day.

Payton Taylor finished tied for 59th place with a 6-over par 77. The junior bogeyed his first three holes of the day and made the turn at 5-over par. However, the native of Vero Beach, Fla., steadied himself during the back nine with six pars, two bogeys and his lone birdie of the day at No. 13.

Mickey DeMorat is one shot back of Taylor, tied for 62nd place with a 7-over par 78. The junior also posted his lone birdie of the day at No. 13 and dropped three shots at the par-3, No. 8 hole (237 yards).

The Flames will be among the first golfers to return to the University of Texas Golf Club on Tuesday, heading off at No. 10 (par 4, 422 yards) starting at 8 a.m. (CST). Liberty will be paired with golfers with seventh-place College of Charleston (7-over par 293) and eighth-place Wake Forest (10-over par 294).

Photos provided by Brendan Maloney: